Increasing Rail Network Capacity Through Operational Efficiency


Our client is a British copper mining company listed on the London Stock Exchange focused on large-scale, low-cost open pit mining in Kazakhstan and developing new copper mining projects in the CIS region. They operate a facility near Aktogay, Kazakhstan, which includes a large open pit mine and processing facilities to produce copper cathode and copper concentrate.

A project was underway to construct a twin mining facility adjacent to the current operation, enabling production volume to be doubled to meet growing market demand.

The new facility would utilise the existing rail network to supply raw materials and equipment to the new facility and ship finished products out to market.

Previous assessments of the rail network capacity indicated that extensive investment in new track infrastructure and rolling stock would be required to achieve this objective.

ORBIZ were engaged in studying the current operational practices across the rail yard and identifying opportunities to increase capacity through operational improvements to reduce the capital investment required.


Stage one of the engagement involved a series of field observations to study how the rail yard functioned. ORBIZ completed these Go-Look-See activities during all operating times 24/7 over two
weeks to build a comprehensive dataset. The working practices, rhythms, rolling stock movements and material movements were mapped using Value Stream Mapping (VSM) principles. ORBIZ engaged the local workforce in a series of bilingual workshops to study the current state operating practices and explore all opportunities for improvement.

Stage two involved developing a future state rail yard operating system vision that would maximise network capacity through improved operational efficiency. This activity was again completed utilising VSM principles and through a series of workshops to engage with the local workforce and build a shared practical vision.


ORBIZ facilitated a series of improvement activities to test the thesis by proving the full potential of the current network through a trial. This activity included rail operations and infrastructure
maintenance initiatives to ensure asset availability for the test. These initiatives proved the thesis and enabled broad stakeholder agreement on the legitimacy of the future state operating system vision.

A network condition document was developed identifying the requirements to meet the capacity requirements of the expansion project.

The future state rail yard operating system was documented to provide instructions for managing the
increased volume levels through the yard.

A programme management framework was developed to oversee the infrastructure upgrade project.


  • $22M USD per annum saving by removing nine leased consists from the rolling stock fleet.
  • $6m USD balance sheet improvement by reducing commodity inventories in the rail yard.
  • $5m USD capital investment saving by cancelling two large projects in the infrastructure plan.